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Olympus High ISO

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by OzRay, Jun 21, 2014.

  1. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    There's often discussion about how FF/APSC cameras are better at high ISO than m4/3s cameras, and I'm not disputing that in most cases that is fairly true; however, much depends on the end purposes of the images that you take. In my previous life as a news and sports photographer, shooting at anything above ISO1600 with my E-5 was not ideal and above that really a last resort. With my E-M1, I'm more than happy to shoot at ISO6400 any day and if I were still doing news and sports, would go to the max without hesitation. To illustrate this, and because I was a tad bored on a Saturday night, I did a test shot of my usual subject at ISO speeds from 6400 to max, to see what I could get.

    The following shots were taken with my 90-250mm (at 250mm) handheld, trying to focus on the right eye (our left), camera set to 'P' for professional, 8m from the subject, lit by one 9W LED downlight and taken after quite a few red wines and beers (IBIS is great). The RAW files have been converted using Instant JPG from RAW (because it's damn quick and easy, and produces pretty good results) and I've posted the 800 x 600mm conversions without any further adjustment. While these are the smaller sized conversions, the full sized ones look exactly the same and you could get any one of them published in any newspaper, any time, without question (were it a newspaper relevant shot). Just a point to note, Instant JPG to RAW only converts the files to a max of 3200 x 2400 for some reason (but whatever).

    6400:

    6400_IJFR_800.

    8000:

    8000_IJFR_800.

    10000:

    10000_IJFR_800.

    12800:

    12800_IJFR_800.

    16000:

    16000_IJFR_800.

    20000:

    20000_IJFR_800.

    25600:

    25600_IJFR_800.

    And this is a crop from the 25600 (almost) full sized shot to show a somewhat close-up:

    25600_IJFRa.

    Usable or not?
     
    • Like Like x 4
  2. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Absolutely usable but of course its subjective. I guess some that like to heavily crop may not agree.

    Yes.. in the film days, I hesitated to use anything faster than ISO 400. I almost never enjoyed processing and enlarging ISO 800 and 1600 in the dark room. The digital sensor is a godsend of change.

    I think most of the debate is stemming from pixel peeping. Its the equivalent of comparing dyno charts between cars. I will admit that my rush to buy the Canon 5D (1st one) was in part due to its high ISO performance of that time. It taught me that the obsession over high ISO is actually quite distracting from the aspects of photography I enjoy. It bears less weight now in my choice of camera although still an important measurement. I like to evaluate using the details in the shadows. In your samples, the wood grain wall treatment on left lower quadrant of the frame.
     
  3. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    I guess for newspaper use, any of these would do - but I wouldn't want to be hanging exhibition prints at that noise level. Horses for courses.
     
  4. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    That's exactly what I was saying. For newspaper work you don't require absolute resolution/fine detail, but you do need to be able to clearly see the subject. You could not have achieved this with an Olympus camera just a few years ago. That said, exhibition prints are completely in the eye of the beholder and potential art market, never assume what might be considered valuable. I just did an A4 laser print of the 25600 shot and I reckon I could print it four times larger and still have a pretty good print.
     
  5. Ross the fiddler

    Ross the fiddler Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    "camera set to 'P' for professional,"

    I do assume that was with 'tongue in cheek'? Still, I don't know why you didn't use A (for amateur, just kidding :wink:). Aperture Priority would have kept the same DoF while you manually changed the ISO (& the shutter speed changed accordingly).
    BTW, for most of my shots I will allow the Auto ISO to go up to 6400, but for clearer shots, where it is possible, I would prefer ISO 200. Dark areas & detail will suffer with the higher ISO's, but there are circumstances that a high ISO photograph is better than no photograph at all.
     
  6. Ross the fiddler

    Ross the fiddler Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    BTW, laser printers & toner photocopiers have a minimum threshold & the lightest shadows may not actually print (well, at least that was the case when I used to service them).
     
  7. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I pretty much allow the camera to set things the way it likes, unless I'm after something specific and then use one of the other modes. It's all subject dependent. In this case, I was just considering ISO.

    Usually I just fire off a print from the colour laser, rather than wasting ink on the Canon. My earlier Minolta colour laser used to do very good prints, but the Brother laser isn't anywhere near as good. That said, the prints are reasonably representative of the potential.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  8. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    I photographed my daughter's end of year school play last Thurs. It was not great lighting, but I used ISO 3200 and with the 75/1.8 wide open I could get shutter speeds of 1/500 to 1/1000 - enough for getting sharp shots amongst the action. Looking at the files in LR and applying a little NR, the IQ is excellent. I could make good-sized prints from these without concern.
     
  9. GBarrington

    GBarrington Mu-43 Veteran

    Overall, I've been pretty pleased with the noise found in photos coming from my E-M10 compared to my E30. I too, have found that the noise "Ain't Bad" all the way up to iso 1200 or so. And to be honest, at 1200 and below, I rarely see much color noise unless I'm trying to get some detail out of something in deep shadows. However it's difficult to break the life long habit of using the lowest appropriate iso suitable for a situation, so I find myself rarely shooting above iso 400.

    I find though, that over the last couple of years, I am far less aggressive with anti-noise efforts than I used to be. I have found that I kind of LIKE a little bit of luminance noise in areas of Bokeh or in large areas of one color. I think the noise adds a bit of texture and 'depth' to otherwise large boring areas of the image.

    Could there be such a thing as a 4/3s aesthetic?
     
  10. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I think it's always good policy to shoot at the lowest possible ISO, but it's also good to know that you can go the higher end and achieve very usable shots if required. One day you might come across that UFO/alien gathering in poor lighting and all you have available is ISO12500; it'd be good to know that you can fire away and not get blurrycam shots.:)
     
  11. Ross the fiddler

    Ross the fiddler Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    After all, a newspaper photog has to get the shot, no matter what! :wink: It is true some photos need to be taken at the lowest possible ISO for a clean image, but some won't be had if we're going to limit ourselves when the camera is capable of grabbing that shot at a high enough ISO with a reasonable shutter speed.
     
  12. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    Absolutely. Unfortunately, a lot of photographers fear going higher in the ISO range and thus never learn what they can achieve and how they can extend their horizons. The end purpose of the photograph should always be in mind when taking photos. Family shots, for example, don't always need to be perfect, as many that are taken at the spur of the moment etc, are rarely printed large and even if they were, there is 'artistic' processing available.